Are we already where we belong?
A few weeks ago I had a very powerful realization. It’s that we are all on the same side.
We are each born into this world in ignorance. We each open our eyes to what is fundamentally a mystery. This body that we each possess allows us to perceive this world and also act in it. But, from within this body, we cannot know the truth of what all this is. We can only know this body’s experience of it. Our experience is so intricately tied to the nature of this instrument. We cannot separate this instrument from our experience of reality. And even though we each come with variations, we are each in possession of fundamentally the same instrument. It is the reason why we can relate to each other.
We are each plagued by the fundamental mystery of what this is. Some of us are more attuned to the presence of this mystery than others. Some of us constantly wonder. Others get lost amongst the distractions. But it matters to all of us.
From birth to death, we each share the same fundamental joys, desires, afflictions and fears. We are fundamentally the same and yet different enough to each have our own strengths and weaknesses. To be a small slice of life we may feel independent. But to live life as a whole and be all of whom we can be, we need each other.
I started this piece off with one of the most fundamental things we each have in common - our origins into this world. Our arrival in a state of ignorance. And we each go to our deaths eventually. Between that fateful origin and the inevitable perishing, we each get this brief window of existence to peer into this deep mystery. We each spend it pursuing different things. We pursue whatever we choose to see as the most important to us. We need each other to remind ourselves that there is more to life than whatever it is that we each hold as important.
I’ve often encountered individuals who view the world through the frame of “us versus them”. They somehow believe that what they see as belonging to them is more important than what they don’t see as theirs. It’s like watching your hand try to snatch your foot and trying to feed on it to grow itself. It helps no one in the end.
I’ve often seen people as one of two kinds - the ones who value their role in society over their role in the cosmos. In the society there is always a competitive spirit. Our resources are limited. There’s functional value in deception. We each try to get a greater share than the other. But in the cosmos, we must all realize that we are all on the same side. There is no value to deception and there is no value in not collaborating. There is no us or them. It’s us and us. And those who have their heads bowed onto society forget that the society exists in a larger cosmos. It might take them an occasional lifting of their heads up once in a while to be reminded that there is something larger than whatever they hold as important.
However, as much as people like to complain about society, we each enjoy the immense benefits that comes with being part of a society. It is what lets us thrive and grow without sacrificing comfort and convenience. And it all comes as inherent benefits of the competition we each must engage in to survive. A balanced life involves a marriage of competition and collaboration. One eye on the society and the other on the cosmos. They’re both important. But when people become so consumed by their slice of life that they don’t see the other slices as being part of the same thing, they begin to cannibalize. At this point they’re no different from a cancer. The wars, the greed, the hoarding, the lies, the abuses…all of these are just symptoms of that disease. The disease of not realizing that we are all on the same side.
The only way to live as the larger whole is ironically for us to live each moment in complete realization that we are just a slice of something larger. We perform the duties of the slices of life that we are, in full realization that we are part of a greater whole. It is the only way to live out the whole of life. I may have had this dawn on me at one moment. But I know that I don’t live each moment in that realization. If I did, I would hurt every time I witness someone else hurting. And I would feel joy every time I witness someone else feel joy. I do to some extent, but it is not persistent, and it is not universal. I certainly favor some over the others.
But is it truly possible to feel that way about everyone all the time, regardless of who they are and what they do? What about someone who does not see you as a slice of the same thing that they are? Is it possible to feel their pain and joy as they would even when they stand in front of you with rage in their eyes as they destroy everything that you care about? And if it were possible to feel that way, would it even be wise to be on their side? Should you side with only those who realize that they’re just also a slice of the whole, just as you are? Does it eventually become a matter of economics? In which case you’d have to side with the forces that benefit the most volume of the whole? If that were to be the most sensible thing to do, we would already be at our destination, because that is indeed how we already live our lives. Is this what it means to come full circle? We reached where we already were, but with the realization of how we must see what we were already looking at.
Perhaps it is wise to see everyone as the slice of the same life within but treat them differently depending on who they are, so that they do not harm themselves and others. Perhaps somewhat like how we must treat children who do not know any better. Either way, to act in the manner that we would deem ideal takes a lot of strength, clarity, resolution and wisdom. I suppose those are the things that measure how far we have come. The realization is only a milestone along the path.
With one hand feeding upon one foot and the other hand and foot trying to stop it from happening, we go nowhere. Imagine if we each were clear, resolute, strong and wise and we each realized that we are all on the same side. We would be able to do so much more than we can now as a society. But that would be akin to everyone in the society being strong and wise and neither too young nor too old. If we were so, we may, perhaps not have a source for the challenges that feed our growth and wisdom. Perhaps we need these problem children who do not know any better. Perhaps those too are valuable slices of the whole, with their own way of contributing to the whole. Maybe their contribution is the challenges they bring us. Maybe we are already at our destination. Perhaps there is nowhere new to go other than to grow in the realization that we are all already where we belong.